WHAT DOESN’T MAKE MUSLIMS RIOT?? SALMAN RUSHDIE, FOREIGN POLICY, ISRAEL, MOHAMMED CARTOONS, QUESTIONING OR CRITISM OF ISLAMIC TEACHINGS, AND NOW APPARENTLY BURNING THEIR LEATHER BOUND TOILET PAPER IS JUSTIFICATION FOR “PROVOKING” THEM INTO BEHAVING LIKE SAVAGES….
Florida pastor says going ahead with Koran burning
MIAMI — An obscure U.S. Christian pastor whose plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 has sparked an international outcry said on Wednesday he will still go ahead with the event despite U.S. official warnings it will endanger American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pastor Terry Jones, leader of a tiny, little-known Protestant church in Gainesville, Florida, which openly campaigns against what it calls “radical Islam,” is facing a barrage of calls from U.S. government, military and religious leaders, and from abroad, to cancel his plans to publicly burn Islam’s holy book.
“We are still determined to do it, yes,” Jones told the CBS “Early Morning” show.
He said he wanted the Koran-burning event to send a “warning” to what he called hard-line Muslims, who he said were intent on exerting influence over the United States.
“We are sending a message to them that we don’t want them to do as they appear to be doing in Europe,” Jones said. “We want them to know if they’re in America, they need to obey our law and constitution and not slowly push their agenda on us.”
The planned Koran-burning on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States has attracted worldwide condemnation and touched off protests in Afghanistan and Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.
It also comes near the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and amid heightened tensions in the United States over a proposal to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks in New York.
Opponents of the building plan say it is insensitive to families of the victims of the attacks by militant Islamist group al-Qaida.
With anger growing in Afghanistan over the proposed Koran-burning, Afghan police went on alert to guard against more protests. The United Nations called the event “abhorrent” and the Vatican also added to a growing chorus of global criticism.
The event by Jones, a gray-haired, mustachioed pastor with mutton-chop sideburns who has authored a book titled “Islam is of the Devil”, drew more criticism from top U.S. military officials on Wednesday.
DANGER TO U.S. LIVES
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told staff in a morning meeting he “strongly endorsed” the view of his military commanders that any Koran-burning plan could endanger U.S. lives, said a Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan.
General Ray Odierno, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said the event would only provoke Muslim extremists and increase threats to U.S. troops.
“What this does is this feeds right into what they want. And they’ll use this to generate more hate. And what that will turn into is potentially more violence against U.S. troops,” Odierno told NBC’s “Today” show.
He warned the images of any Koran-burning would immediately reverberate in the Muslim world.
“I think there will be some backlash. I think you’ve started to see some already. And I’m worried that it will turn into violence against our troops (in) Iraq, Afghanistan and other places as well.”
Two of the top commanders in Afghanistan have said the Florida church’s plan risks undermining U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to Muslims across the world.
Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, whose country has nearly 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, said in a statement: “This initiative is insulting to Muslims and Canadians of all faiths who understand that freedom of thought and freedom of religion are fundamental to our way of living.”
On Tuesday, several high-ranking Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoke out against the planned event, and leading Christian and Jewish leaders also voiced outrage.
Actress Angelina Jolie, visiting Pakistan to highlight the plight of millions of people devastated by the country’s worst floods, said on Wednesday she “hardly had the words” to express her opposition.
Authorities in Gainesville say they are stepping up special security measures for Saturday’s event at Jones’ church, which is called the Dove World Outreach Center. Local police say it is believed to have only around 30 members.
Law enforcement officials said a number of death threats, including one reported to be from a known “terrorist organization,” have been made against Jones, and the FBI and federal agencies were working with Gainesville authorities.
U.S. officials say that First Amendment constitutional rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly and religion prevent them from prohibiting the event.
But local authorities have warned Jones that he would violate city ordinances if he went ahead without proper authorization. City officials have denied his request for a burn permit.
In Iran, the planned Koran-burning drew protest from a leading cleric. “I along with 1.5 billion Muslims . . . condemn this brutal and savage spirit . . . I warn about its consequences,” Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani told Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA.
“If it happens, Obama should be tried for it and this priest should be arrested immediately and his church must be shut down forever,” he said.